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Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers

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  • John Calder
    Title: Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers Author: John Calder Copyright: 2003Article Originally Written: July, 2003Article URL:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 22 11:23 PM
      Title: Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers
      Author: John Calder
      Copyright: 2003

      Article Originally Written: July, 2003

      Article URL:

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      Formatted to 65 Characters per Line
      Word Count: 1190 words


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      Lessons in Creating a Productive Dialog with Consumers
      Copyright � 2003, John Calder
      The Ezine Dot Net

      *This is an independent examination of the idiotic promotion
      practices of some marketers. Pepsi and Coke are not sponsors
      or co-sponsors of this examination. Pepsi is a registered
      trademark of Pepsi Corporation. Coke is a registered trademark
      of Coca Cola Corporation.


      I received the following email from a direct email marketing
      company. This is not the first time I have seen someone use
      this technique in his or her direct promotion campaign. At
      first, I had deleted the message for being the sp*am that it
      was... Then I realized what a good article this would make. So
      I dug the message out of my trash folder so that I could share
      it with you.

      SUBJECT: Soda Taste Test

      Dear Consumer,

      Today, we're gathering opinions and preferences about
      popular soft drinks. Your feedback will help us determine
      the people's choice.



      a. Yes
      b. No


      I understand what they are trying to do. They are trying to
      generate reader participation within their marketing campaign.
      And they are trying to do so within the strategy of using a
      question everyone generally has an opinion about.

      A good friend of mine has often told me about his first job as
      a telemarketing sales representative. It was his words that
      prompted me to write my article today.

      Eighteen years ago at the age of 19, my friend worked for a
      spell as a telemarketer. It was his first gig as a salesperson
      and it left a lasting impression with him.

      It seems that his boss had read the same book that our direct
      email marketer had read. It seems both have asked the exact
      same question, although at different times and within different
      marketing mediums. Yet, I am sure that the response will be the


      In 1984, it took less than a week for my friend to see the
      futility in this approach.

      The goal of the Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola question is to create an
      opportunity for the consumer to interact with the telemarketer
      or the direct marketer.

      This technique was born in the sales teaching manuals that
      suggest that the salesperson should stive to get the customer
      to answer three of four questions with a Yes before moving into
      the sales pitch.

      Of course, the basis of the approach is legitimate in that you
      must create a dialog with the customer before you can ever hope
      to introduce the product or close a sale.

      When dialing a number at random, the telemarketer would have
      to introduce himself, "Hello, my name is Bill and I represent"
      such-and-such charity. "Let me ask you a question. We are
      interested in knowing whether you prefer Pepsi or Coca-Cola?"
      Then the telemarketer was to insert a deliberate pause and
      await an answer.

      Often times, the inserted silence would generate a hang-up.
      Other times, it would generate a very hesitant answer. And even
      if the question was able to generate the appropriate level of
      interest in the conversation, the consumer was often lost when
      the next step was to take the consumer into a sales pitch
      totally unrelated to the Pepsi vs. Coke equation. The change
      in direction was often rightly perceived as a deception on the
      part of the telemarketer.


      My friend knew that there had to be a better way.

      He had read all of the same books and had a desire to make
      more money while working this commission job. He was properly
      motivated to get the most out of what was available to him.

      While working the phones, he continued to tweak and refine the
      script. The first thing to be dropped from his script was the
      Pepsi vs. Coke question. He had learned from the school of hard
      knocks that this technique created more problems than it helped
      to solve.

      "How are you doing today," was just as effective as the Pepsi
      vs. Coke question, and it did not carry with it the baggage of

      With some tweaking and trial-and-error, my friend had managed
      to increase his closing ratio by 50%.

      With his success in hand, he approached the boiler room
      managers and shared with them the secret of his success
      --- his new script.


      The new script was employed immediately and the sales of the
      entire team rose in accordance with the results that my friend
      had accomplished. Within days, my friend was offered a position
      with the management team. Although my friend turned down the
      promotion --- a new town every 90 days did not appeal to him
      --- the lessons learned were taken with him into his other
      sales positions.


      If you were to anwer the email concerning the Pepsi vs. Coke
      question, you would be asked for ALL of your personal
      information and told that you were "entitled to these great
      deals from our partnering sites. Simply check this box and
      you'll get dozens of daily FREE offers; coupons, special
      discounts and more sent directly to your email address."

      Oh, I see. You did not care what my response was. Instead
      you really want me to give you permission to send me daily
      advertising from dozens of other online companies! Yeah, right.


      During the everyday, I see promotional campaigns like this all
      of the time. Over the last year, I saw several companies use
      the same technique, but change the question to something that
      people felt more strongly about. Instead of asking about a
      preference in soft drinks, they instead asked about opinions
      about the Iraq War.

      All of these companies use this technique to get people to sign
      up to receive advertising by email. Who would have thought
      answering a question such as this could generate so much email?

      It is no wonder that direct email marketers have such a bad


      A really talented telemarketer is able to talk to people and
      quickly create a dialog with the consumer. The utilization of
      the Pepsi vs. Coke question seeks to overcome the fact that
      most telemarketers are not talented in creating a dialog. No
      matter how you phrase the question, a stupid or deceptive
      question will never permit the salesperson to overcome the
      initial hurdle of creating a promising or productive dialog
      with the consumer.

      Sales and marketing lessons taken from books are good, when
      they are utilized properly. As our examples show, a lesson
      that has value can easily be implemented badly. And, a badly
      implemented sales technique can actually cause more damage
      that having no technique at all.


      I hope my examples have shown you not to take sales techniques
      out of context. Don't just jump into your sales campaigns with
      some half-baked scheme that is based on something you may have
      read somewhere. If you are going to expend resources to try to
      develop sales or leads, then make sure that you are going to
      get the best bang for your bucks.

      Resource Box:
      John Calder is the owner and editor of http://www.TheEzine.Net
      Subscribe Today and get real information YOU can use to help
      build your online business today.

      Posted: Wed Jul 23 02:23:04 EDT 2003

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